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Wild place Konopka on waivers

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With goaltender Josh Harding under the weather and the Minnesota Wild in need of a roster spot for an extra goalie, the Wild placed forward Zenon Konopka on waivers Thursday prior to the team's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

A gritty fourth-liner who excels in the faceoff circle, Konopka has one goal and one assist in 36 games. He's in the final season of a two-year contract and is making $925,000 this season.

Konopka leads the Wild with 55 penalty minutes and his 65.7-percent faceoff success rate is the best in the NHL among players to take at least 200 faceoffs.

Should Konopka clear waivers, the Wild would have the option of assigning him to the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild. Coach Mike Yeo said he hasn't thought that far ahead, however.

"When you look at how the lines are right now, this wasn't just an impulse thing," Yeo said. "We want to give it [new forward lines] a real chance to work and we think it can work with the four centermen we have. That kind of put [Konopka] on the outside there.

"We needed a goalie and we needed to make a roster move to make that happen."

Yeo declined to specify whether Harding's illness is related to his multiple sclerosis. Harding missed four games in December while doctors adjusted his medication for the disease. He said Harding would be re-evaluated Friday in hopes he could be ready to go against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal Thursday for the Wild and the team has called up Darcy Kuemper from the AHL to back him up.

Here are the expected lineups for both teams:


Matt Moulson - Tyler Ennis - Zemgus Girgensons

Steve Ott - Brian Flynn - Drew Stafford

John Scott - Matt Ellis - Matt D'Agostini

Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Linus Omark

Christian Ehrhoff - Mark Pysyk

Tyler Myers - Alexander Sulzer

Jamie McBain - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller

Jhonas Enroth

Scratched: Brayden McNabb

Injured: Cody Hodgson (wrist), Cody McCormick (upper body), Kevin Porter (lower body), Henrik Tallinder (upper body), Ville Leino (lower body)


Dany Heatley - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Zucker

Matt Cooke - Charlie Coyle - Torrey Mitchell

Mike Rupp - Kyle Brodziak - Stephane Veilleux

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella - Jonas Brodin

Nate Prosser - Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Keith Ballard

Injured: Zach Parise (fractured left foot), Josh Harding (illness)

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